A New Zealander decides to turn his bucket list into a legacy.
Richard Edmondson started his 50th birthday celebration with a voyage to the other side of the world. A native of New Zealand, Richard had already traveled extensively across the globe, visiting some of the planet’s greatest rainforests from the Western Ghats of India to Madre de Dios in Peru’s Amazon.
To ring in his 50th birthday, Richard was determined to visit a new location: the concrete jungle of New York City. His recent trip left a significant impression, especially viewing firsthand the philanthropic enthusiasm of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. – a juggernaut of public service responsible for several of New York City’s most iconic public spaces and who contributed to the country’s national parks. In fact, in the 1920s, Rockefeller gave more than $1 million to save 15,000 acres of pine forests at Yosemite from loggers.
After his eye-opening visit to New York, Richard explained, “I decided to rewrite my ‘bucket list’ and emulate the large-scale philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., albeit on a considerably smaller budget!”
With this newfound charitable goal inspired by Rockefeller, Richard began looking for a way to make it a reality to benefit the conservation of tropical forests, a cause important to him for many reasons.
“Rainforest destruction accounts for 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions each year, and rainforests are important regulators of our planet’s climate and life support systems,” noted Richard. “They contain more species of plants and animals than anywhere else on Earth, and millions of people live in them or depend on them for their livelihoods.”
Without the vast financial resources of Rockefeller, measuring the impact of his contributions became important to Richard, who researched how to ensure his legacy had longevity and a considerable return on investment.
“There are lots of organizations doing good work in this field, but Rainforest Trust offers the best bang for your buck in my opinion… and works with conservation groups on the ground to permanently protect forests,” said Richard.
“You know that your donation is actually helping to protect forests, and you can quantify the protection your donation is providing. Some of Rainforest Trust’s projects allow you to protect an acre of rainforest for less than a dollar and other donors offer matching gifts, so anyone can make a big difference with relatively modest donations.”
So how is Richard’s new objective coming along?
Since the beginning of 2016, he has already contributed to Rainforest Trust to help safeguard 8,274 acres of tropical forests throughout Peru, Nepal, Cameroon and Indonesia, to name just a few sites that he has supported.
Having set his conservation goal to use Central Park, which spans 843 acres, as a yardstick to measure his own contributions, Richard explained, “My goal for 2016 is to protect a total of 10,000 acres of rainforest, which is an area nearly 12 times the size of Central Park.” By the time he turns 60 years old, Richard claims that he aims to save 100,000 acres – an area 118 times the size of Central Park!
As Richard strives to check off this outstanding achievement on his bucket list by supporting Rainforest Trust’s conservation projects around the globe, he has found that he can leave this lasting legacy of rainforest protection, saving vast natural lands much like Rockefeller – but for a fraction of the cost.